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Larry Pickard, front left, Devon Lyles, center, and CJ Mouser, right, enjoy a spring day at the arena. Photo by JuliAnn Graham. Right: From left, CJ Mouser, Roger Shorb, Larry Pickard and Devon Lyles at a team penning event in 2000. Photo courtesy Myrna Pickard and Suzanne Lyles


Staying Young Ranch sorting keeps riders active S


ome people retire and may seem to wilt away; others continue to stay active and appear younger than their years. CJ Mouser, a trustee of Tri-County Electric Cooperative (TCEC) in Hooker, Okla., could be known as ‘forever young.’ Part of his secret is


ranch sorting.


“I went out to watch the practice after I retired,” Mouser said. “They asked me to flag. Next time they talked me into riding a horse. Danged if I didn’t go buy one after that.” Mouser was 70 then; today he’s 86 and still going out to practice on


Tuesday and Thursday nights from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Pickard Arena just outside of Hooker on Highway 54. He only recently stopped going to area competitions due to the travel involved. “When I started, I told myself: ‘I’m going to go until I’m 75,’” Mouser


said. “Well, I made 75 so I said 80. Then I made 80 so I said 85. I’m 86 now and I’ve got her up to 90. If you want good exercise, ride a cutting horse. I like staying active.” Mouser is not alone. His good friends Devon Lyles, 77, and Larry Pickard,


79, also are active in ranch sorting. They, along with Roger Shorb, came together in 2000 to form the Texas County Team Penning Association in order to have sanctioned events. Several other locals have an interest in ranch sorting, including TCEC employees Shellie Shorb, safety and loss control coordinator who is married to Roger Shorb, Rick Wayman, construc- tion manager, and Lyle Mathis, vice president of operations. Those who practice ranch sorting at Pickard Arena have a following of friends and family members in the community who come to watch.


“When I started, I told myself: ‘I’m going to go until I’m 75,’” Mouser said. “Well, I made 75 so I said 80. Then I made 80 so I said 85. I’m 86 now and I’ve got her up to 90.” - CJ Mouser


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At Pickard Arena, ranch sorting practice involves two 50-foot pens, 11 head of cattle and two riders. Ten of the cows are numbered one through 10, the 11th is left blank. Pickard’s wife Myrna calls a number and the riders try to get as many cows as possible from one pen to the other in order, starting with the number called. It’s similar to team penning but involves less cattle.


About 10 years ago, Pickard bought and expanded the indoor arena. He welcomes anyone to come enjoy the amenities; it has a nice seating area with tables for onlookers and for those waiting to ride. “The people keep me doing this,” Pickard said. “I’ve got a great group of people who come here.” Myrna Pickard mentioned they have two sets of cattle they work and they


take a break in between. They enjoy chatting, popcorn and soda while they visit during this time. She brings a cake when someone has a birthday in the practice season, which is during the spring through the summer and into fall.


Everybody rides for a different reason. Pickard does it for the people and


Mouser does it to stay active, while Lyles does it as a hobby. Lyles has an impressive collection of ranch sorting awards and scrapbooks his wife Suzanne made and he continues to travel to competitions regularly. He enjoys practicing at Pickard’s. “We have a lot of fun at it,” Lyles said. “There’s no competition other than everybody does the best they can.” Not everyone who practices at Pickard’s is retired. Steika Rapp, a nurse practitioner, is 31 and has been practicing there for about five years. “It really clears my mind after a long day,” Rapp said. “My husband, mom and dad come watch sometimes. It’s a clean, fun, family sport.” Of the older gentlemen who practice regularly, she said, “It keeps them young.” Pickard Arena is in TCEC’s service territory and everyone mentioned in this article is a TCEC member. To learn more about ranch sorting, visit www.rsnc.us.


JuliAnn Graham, a regular Oklahoma Living contributor, is the communications coordinator at TCEC.


By JuliAnn Graham, CCC


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